‘Insta-crush’: finding love in the digital age

Self proclaimed “Insta-crushes

You can’t choose love, but you can “follow” it.

Meet Adam Nash, a wedding photographer based on Lopez Island and Laura Sage, a massage therapist in Oregon. Self-proclaimed “Insta-crushes,” the two had been silently watching each other’s lives long before cupid made his move.

Enter Instagram, the popular social media website where people upload photos from their daily lives. If you chose to “follow” someone, photos from their profile will show up in the daily feed on your Instagram homepage.

With 150 million active users on the site there’s everything from backcountry adventurers to millennial’s with manicures creating collages of moments, and allowing others to get a glimpse of who they are, well, at least who they want people to think they are.

So what happens when a single dad on Lopez Island and a single mom in Oregon follow their passions, post them to Instagram, and then follow each over the course of a year?

A modern day love story.

“When you look through enough photo albums of someone’s life you can start to put together the personalities of people,” Nash said. “But we were missing that physical connection. That connection Instagram doesn’t show.”

His Instagram chronicles life aboard a sailboat with his seven-year-old son—the shores of the San Juans, luminous sunsets, and dimly lit nights in the boat’s cabin.

Hers is a series of photos from life in the fertile Willamette River Valley—mushroom hunting, hawk watching, and adventures to the ocean with her nine-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

Both have a passion for photography and the outdoors, apparent in their thoughtfully composed pictures.

“Everyone uses Instagram for something different,” Sage said. “I think Adam and I are at the same place in lives. Our kids come first, we see beauty and adventures and want to share it—so are pages are naturally similar.”

It was around the same time that Nash intended to reach out to Sage, let her know he’d be in the Oregon area the following month and would like to meet, that he received a letter from her.

She introduced herself, though he already knew who she was, and suggested they meet sometime in the islands, where she likes to visit, and have a playdate for the kids.

“I was going to write the same letter,” he said. “I had decided, but she beat me to it.”

What followed was like any other digital courtship—video chat correspondence, along with texts and talking on the phone. But the two couldn’t wait to meet.

So, on New Year’s Eve they both flew to Bellingham and at the stroke of midnight met at the airport for the first time.

Soon after the couple was as inseparable as could be, from a state away. Each family made a trip to the other’s home.

“We ate three meals together at the dinning room table as a family for four days,” Sage said. “We ate, talked, and laughed. It’s all I could have dreamed of, to be a family again.”

Blending two families isn’t easy, which is why they’re taking it slow and using the next few months as a transition. Sage plans to move with her kids to Lopez this summer, where they will live with Nash and his son as one big, happy family. They are searching for the perfect four-bedroom house.

In the meantime they have family Skype sessions, because the kids getting to know each other is as important as the parents, and each make two trips per month to spend time together in person, as a family.

While Instagram was the forum in which they met, their relationship transcends it.

“Love ain’t got nothing to do with the Internet,” Nash said. “She could have been a diver on my boat, or wrote me a parking ticket. There’s either electricity or there’s not. You never know how you will meet your life partner.”

—Adam Nash is no stranger to the islands. Follow his portraits of island life at www.adamnash.us.